Council accused of having 'no long-term planning' after land worth £14m sold in five years

By Scunthorpe Telegraph | Posted: 13 Mar 2019

North Lincolnshire Council has been accused of having "no cohesive plan" for land in the area after it was revealed the authority has sold assets worth more than £14 million over the last five years.

According to information gathered by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the council sold 97 assets between 2014 and 2018, ranging in value from £1 to more than £1 million.

Opposition Labour councillors have criticised the number of green spaces which have been sold and the rate the land was being sold at.

But council bosses hit back, saying they were working with residents to protect other land from development.

Labour group leader Councillor Len Foster said: "I'm quite worried about the rate land is being sold. It gives developers an opportunity to exploit the council.

"There's a laissez-faire attitude to development - there's no long term or strategic planning. No cohesive plan for North Lincolnshire."

The former sports field at the rear of Quibell Park in Scunthorpe is among the land sold by North Lincolnshire Council in recent years (Image: David Haber/scunthorpelive)

Mr Foster went on to say: "What is surprising is the amount of land that's being sold by the council that has been previously acknowledged as public green spaces, such as the land near Quibell Park.

"We all accept there's a need for more housing, but there's brownfield sites that could be developed on first."

The most expensive aset sold was land south of Ferriby Road in Barton-upon-Humber, which was bought for £1,463,349 last year. Land at Burdock Road in Scunthorpe also fetched £1.4 million.

Other valuable assets which have been sold include farms in Garthorpe and Owston Ferry, the former Broughton Infant School playing field, and a former highways depot on Northampton Road in Scunthorpe.

Land off Plymouth Road near Quibell Park in Scunthorpe was sold for £200,000 in 2016. Residents have vigorously protested against plans to build 77 houses on the land, with plans set to be decided by the council's planning committee today.

Councillor Rob Waltham, leader of North Lincolnshire Council, said: "It is complete nonsense to suggest that the council is selling off lots of land. In contrast we are working with a number of residents to protect land from development.

Kingsway Golf Course was converted into a public 42-acre nature reserve (Image: Scunthorpe Live)

"We recently created a new 42 acre nature reserve in the heart of Scunthorpe, protecting open space and providing a home for wildlife.

"However, the Labour Party seem to be in complete denial about the demand for affordable housing in Scunthorpe, they would clearly rather see residents homeless and vulnerable and on the streets rather than support housing development. 

"Their opposition to new housing schemes in Scunthorpe is appalling and hypocritical."

The size of most parcels of land sold isn't clear, but they do include 12 acres in Fockerby, six acres in New Holland and an acre off Atherton Way in Brigg.

According to the data, the peak year for asset sales was 2017, with 30 individual spaces sold by the council, followed by 2016 and 2018 with roughly 20 each.

The information was gathered by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which requested data from councils around the country. The information does not reveal who the properties were sold to.

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